BCF EXTRAORDINARY COUNCIL MEETING
Saturday 26th June 2004 at Nottingham
This meeting was called by NCCU in conjunction with SCCU for one purpose only: to debate Item 12 from the next meeting down. In consequence it was brief. Just short of three hours, including a 15-minute tea break. The attendance was just over 30, inevitably rather on the low side, and the list of apologies for absence seemed to go on for ever when it was read out. Gerry Walsh was in the Chair.
The meeting began (well, actually it came in the middle but shouldn't have) with a presentation by Bill O'Rourke of Lancashire setting out the reasons behind the NCCU proposals for a "mandatory" Membership scheme. He showed that BCF income from Game Fee had remained roughly static over the years despite the constant hikes in the Game Fee charge. Unlike some he did not claim cause and effect. But the Game Fee was unpopular and should be replaced by something far more positive. Regular players would gain more than their Membership fee simply by not having to pay Game Fee. When asked where the losers were going to come from, on the assumption that BCF income remained the same, he said it was a "win-win situation". This appeared to mean there wouldn't be any losers, and your Webmaster didn't understand it.
In the one-hour-plus that preceded this presentation, a number of practical questions had been raised. One was administrative. Would not this involve more Office time, with probably more staff required to keep track of Membership? Answer: no, because it would all be done electronically with leagues and counties maintaining their own lists and passing them on to the Office in computer-readable form. One League representative made it clear that his people wouldn't go along with this. The extra work was there whoever did it. Reference was made to the old Registration and Levy schemes, both in their own way "membership" schemes, and the administration they had involved.
Whether the BCF Office finds Game Fee simple to collect is unclear. But some organisations said they had discussed it and favoured the status quo. Game Fee had the merit of basic simplicity (in spite of its variable rates and discounts!) and was fairer in that people playing more paid more. (Bill O'Rourke: "Why should they?") A point made more than once in favour of change was that other organisations - Scrabble was mentioned - have Membership schemes and they don't just charge the £10 we seemed to be thinking about. Some disliked the element of taxation involved in Game Fee. ("We're just tax collectors.") One representative said his league would not be paying Game Fee next year because of the increase. Someone else quoted players as having said, "in that case we won't be playing in it".
One difficulty, with a Membership scheme, would be exactly how you relate it to grading. The Grading Director said it would not be practicable to just replace non-Members' grades with a row of asterisks as had been suggested. There are, of course, other ways of doing it.
Another question was financial risk. No one could tell what the take-up of Membership would be, and switching from Game Fee to Membership in one go would be a (potentially disastrous) gamble. The Chairman of the Finance Committee felt that a gradual transition would be a more responsible approach.
Representation at Council would have to be addressed. Presumably a league or county would have votes in proportion to their number of Members (rjh: what if a Member plays in two or three?). The assumption seemed to be that congresses would be effectively disenfranchised unless special measures were taken. This isn't immediately obvious, since Members would be playing in them just as they play in the leagues and counties. But all this was detail (pretty big detail!) to be sorted out when the Management Board came up with concrete proposals.
Speaking of which, would the MB have time to do this by October? The answer seemed to be, sort of but more time would help. The vote. We got to one in the end, and at this point it became comic as Council debated what order to take the amendments in, and whether the Management Board was allowed to amend its own proposal (on the printed Agenda) without Council's permission. Ducks and traffic wardens came into the discussion somehow. Without going into detail, the motion actually put to Council after amendment was: "That this Council recommend that a Membership Scheme be introduced. Council instructs the Board to produce proposals for submission to the next AGM/Council meeting in October". It was a diluted form of the original proposal, mainly in not stipulating a commencement date for the scheme. On a card vote, this proposal was lost by 55 votes to 100. A byway. Not really a part of this debate, but someone asked why our existing Membership scheme seemed to have no teeth in weeding out non-Members from the FIDE rating list. Of nine hundred and something English players in the FIDE list, only about 300 were BCF Direct Members. It was said in reply that, firstly, the requirement to be a Member of an affiliated organisation is FIDE's and not ours. Secondly, the BCF is conforming to the rule by not submitting non-Members' games for rating. The 600 or so "illegal" entries in the list are not active players. Some of them are dead. Possibly FIDE ought to prune the inactive players, but that is their responsibility. The future. This isn't the end of it. While the Management Board is now not required to make proposals in October, we would be surprised if it did not go on thinking about it. We hear there is talk of pilot schemes up north in which leagues (we think it was leagues) would operate their own schemes to see how it worked. We have no details, but it can't be a bad thing. The surprise: Game Fee 2004-5. This was not part of the meeting at all. After closing the meeting the Chairman announced that the Management Board, at its morning meeting before the ECM, had reduced next year's Game Fee from 44p to 43p.
We wish we could stop there, but it's more complicated than that. Rapid and club internal are at one-half and one-third rate, with fractions rounded to the nearest whole number of pence. Junior is half-rate again. The April Council meeting decided, oddly, that advice would be taken on how to round halves. 43 is a less tractable number than 44, and the Board's decision - perhaps after advice anyway - was that halves would be rounded up. Clear about that? Rapidplay and Junior are 22p as before. Club internal is 14p (was 15p). Club internal Rapidplay and club internal Junior are 7p as before. Club internal Junior Rapidplay is 4p as before. We think.
This is all about publication of the Grading List on the BCF website. You will know that the 44p of April included a 1p element to compensate for loss of sales of printed Lists. It was always understood that publication on the site would be subject to legal advice, and everyone thought the go-ahead would be a formality. It turns out it wasn't. Apparently even someone's grade counts as "personal information" and cannot be published on a website without express permission. The BCF is seeking clarification, but this will take time and if the 2004 List ever appears on the site it certainly will not happen any time soon. Thus sales of printed Lists will be unaffected and the MB felt able to give back the 1p Council had allowed.
We've given more detail than the Chairman had time for at the end of the meeting. Here's some more. Assuming the above advice is sound, there is still a way the 2005 List could go on the site. It would have to be clearly announced, at the start of any graded event, that participation would be taken as permission to publish unless you actively said otherwise. The BCF could then with a clear conscience go ahead, deleting of course the players who had said otherwise.
BCF COUNCIL MEETING
Saturday 24th April 2004 at Gloucestershire's county cricket ground in Bristol.
Before the meeting began, Council stood for a minute in silence in memory of Richard Furness who had died on the 15th April. Richard was a Senior Arbiter and FIDE Arbiter and a former BCF Junior Director, and had long been a tireless organiser and servant of chess at levels local, national and international.
Gerry Walsh was in the chair, and 30-something attended. We remarked a few years back that the norm seemed to be fifty-ish, but if that was true there has been a decline since. These days it rarely seems to get far into the forties. However, thirty-something is towards the lower end of the scale.
It was a confusing meeting in some ways, to the financially null, because a number of financial items seemed to exercise all possible permutations of influence on each other and there didn't seem to be any right order to take them in. But the financially null cannot complain if they are confused at Finance meetings. Worse than confusing was the one that got away at the end. For this see item (12), and here's our attempt at the meeting. (1) Small events. Some events pay too little Game Fee to qualify for a vote in Council, though they may attend and speak and propose resolutions. A regular item at the start of meetings allows Council to accord them a vote anyway, and there was a time when it did so as a matter of course. This time it reverted to that practice. We believe only four such events were represented, and three of them only by proxy. The one that was actually there - an SCCU league - deserves a medal for enterprise. For what it's worth it will have paid Game Fee on 149 halfgames last year, and the threshold is 200. (2) Honorary Life Vice-Presidents. On a proposal of the Management Board Council elected Alan Martin of the London Chess League and (posthumously) Richard Furness. (3) Financial Report. Robert Richmond presented his detailed Report. He had forecast a deficit for the year of about £8000, but on more recent information he thought £9000 to £10,000 would be nearer the mark. Rather than speak to the Report at length he invited questions. There were a fair number. You would not expect your Webmaster of all people to report every detail, but a notable one was something like: "What makes you think your Game Fee projection is right, considering that your predecessors have invariably overestimated?" The Finance Director replied that he was uncomfortably aware of precedent, but had used what seemed to him to be reliable methods. (4) Venues for meetings. The Report led to talk of venues and their cost. Venues in the centre of large towns are extremely expensive. Today's Bristol venue at £250 was very much at the lower end of the scale, but it was not central. (Pleasant, yes, and the room was spacious. But it was down a maze of side streets and nowhere near a railway station.) Discussion turned to the rotation of venues among the Unions. Did it serve a purpose? "Look around you. The same people go to Council meetings wherever they are." It was decided, by a small majority, to drop the rotation and use central venues. This was referred to the Management Board. (5) Budget. The Finance Director said, "Let's go for break-even." He offered Council three ways of cutting costs. Taking up any of them would allow him to reduce his recommendation for Game Fee 2004-5. (a) Olympiad(s). We could remove the £3000 allowance for fees to players. No, by 69 votes to 47. (This was not one-person-one-vote, but one-organisation-one-vote. Some people wore many hats.) (b) Grand Prix. We could remove the £5000 allowance for a BCF Grand Prix when the present one ends in August. No, by 75 to 43. (c) Publication of Grading List. We could save £1300 by not putting the list on the BCF website (a new departure recommended by the MB). This doesn't mean what it sounds like. Putting the list on the site would cost nothing. The £1300 is estimated loss of net income from the sale of printed lists. No again and let's go online, with some comfort (85-34), but only after determined efforts to refer it to the October meeting which happens three months after the list appears. It was remarked, but not by the determined, that we are the only sensible body left that doesn't yet publish its grades on the internet.
Council, having rejected three economies, found two others. It halved the BCF Schools Championship budget from £6000 to £3000 and instructed the Home Director to budget for a surplus on the National Club. (The original provision had been for a loss of £2000.) The National Club got off lightly, because there was one suggestion to abolish the Open section and another to abolish the National Club. (6) Direct Members Fees. It was proposed that these go up by amounts in the region of 20% (10% last year) as laid out in the Director's papers. This was agreed, though not without counter-proposals wanting more. (7) Other Membership fees. This means the "non-territorial affiliates": Braille CA, for example, or CAA, or Friends of Chess, or NYCA. The Finance Director did not propose to change their fees, but Council thought otherwise. By a majority of 10 to 9 (on show of hands) it resolved to increase them by 25%. (8) Game Fee (from 1st September 2004). The Finance Director had recommended 47p (currently 36p) assuming no economies. In the event, he felt able to reduce his figure to 45p. After much discussion of the merits and fairness of Game Fee, voting was as follows.
Work that one out. It is a "card vote", with votes in proportion to the amount of Game Fee you're paying now. You can vote for anything you like, and the winning vote is the middle or median one. Careful calculation (very careful, in this case) shows the median vote to be in the 44s, and 44p is the new Game Fee from September.
The rates for Rapid and Club Internal are automatically one-half and one-third of these figures unless Council decides otherwise. It initially made no decision on Rapid and Club Internal, and we drew the obvious conclusion. Perhaps 45 minutes later (it was that sort of meeting) it thought it would go back and decide, and the upshot is that Rapid and Club Internal are one-half and one-third, but rounded to the nearest penny. This makes no difference at all to Rapidplay, but it increases Club Internal by a third of a penny. Council resolved to take mathematical advice on which way to round halves. Possibly it hadn't done its arithmetic. (9) Junior Game Fee. There isn't one. Exclusively-junior events are exempt. But the Management Board proposed removing this exemption and charging at half the regular rate. Some were strongly opposed. An amendment to apply it to Standardplay only was rejected. (Standardplay represents perhaps one-fifth of junior games currently graded). It became obvious that no one had much idea how much money the Fee would bring in. However, the proposal was agreed.
The idea is that income will be ring-fenced for junior activities. (The beleaguered BCF Schools Championship was specifically mentioned in the accompanying papers.) (10) Game Fee in Congresses: Direct-Member exemption. The MB proposed abolishing the exemption. There was no discussion, and the question was deferred. Sine die, as far as we know. (11) Counties Championship: Rules. The Director of Home Chess proposed:
(a) Rule 16. That in the event of a QPF claim under Appendix D (no arbiter present), there should be a right of appeal. Council agreed this subject to approval by the Chief Arbiter. (It is counter to the FIDE rule. Why this should have worried Council is unclear. The Counties Championships are a domestic event and arguably the BCF's affair.)
(b) Rule 13. Two amendments to the tie-break rules. Firstly, that board count - but not elimination - shall disregard any defaulted boards. This bit was in curly brackets in the Agenda, but it was not obvious what that meant and the Director was not present to explain. Someone said - and we'd said it before him - that if you disregard defaults you are likely to end up with a match in which one side has fewer wins than the other. This would certainly improve the board-count score of the side with fewer defaults(!), but the effect is less fortunate if defaults are one each, and one is on top board and the other on bottom board. Council felt that the intention was unclear and resolved to take no decision on the proposal. It thus never got as far as the second part, which was that if all games are drawn the winner is the side that had black on odd. The probability of this happening over 16 boards is rather small, but one sees the point.
The Director has said, since the meeting, that he intends a different proposal for the October meeting. Namely, that "if scores are level, then the next tie-break is the number of boards defaulted". He said "next", and we are not sure what place in the tie-break hierarchy he really intends this to have. (12) BCF Membership. This is the one that got away. See final paragraph. The NCCU and Durham CCA proposed that the MB put detailed plans to Council, at its October meeting, for "a mandatory Membership Scheme" related to the publication of grades, to be introduced 1st May 2005.
Technically this is wrong. While the proposal did come from Durham and the NCCU, it appeared in the Agenda as a proposal of the Management Board with NCCU amendments. This seems to have been a procedural device to ensure that some MB amendments got in before the deadline. Notably, that it would take effect only from 1st September 2005. We believe the MB had not, in fact, taken a view on the merits of the scheme.
There was some pretty full documentation in the supporting papers that came with the Agenda, and it reflected the NCCU / Durham ideas. Membership (fee might be £10) would replace Game Fee entirely, and the current categories of Standard and Junior Member would be abolished. Grading would be accepted from any source, and the grades of non-Members would be calculated, but published as "***". The new sort of Member would receive a free emailed version of ChessMoves and would be entitled to play in the BCF Championship "and any other Federation event". Also, we think, to receive a published grade no matter how few games it's based on. All Members would receive a membership card.
It got away because, by the time we reached this (final) item in the agenda, approximately two minutes remained before the absolute 6.30 finishing time. Perhaps time had been wasted earlier. The chairman wanted to take a vote anyway without discussion, but (to oversimplify a lot) Council wouldn't have it. There is to be an Extraordinary Council meeting for this item, at a time and place to be fixed. Possibly some other unfinished business (tie-breaks, say?) may be included. But see footnote.
rjh 26.4.04, amended 29.4.04 Footnote 28.5.04. For an update on the Extraordinary Council Meeting, see the SCCU page 28.5.04
BCF MANAGEMENT BOARD MEETINGS
Saturday 20th March 2004 at Peterborough
Saturday 24th April 2004 in Bristol
Very briefly. We apologise for not reporting the March meeting earlier. Things got in the way. Both meetings were largely about long-term planning and preparations for the April Council meeting. But: - (1) Entry fees: reminder. It's mentioned in the next report down (item 6), but the Counties Championships entry fees are to go up. The MB agreed in March to announce this at the April Council meeting, but we think that got overlooked. (Possibly it's in the papers somewhere, but we haven't found it.) (2) Annual Council meeting is confirmed for Saturday 23rd October in Birmingham.
BCF MANAGEMENT BOARD MEETING
Saturday 7th February 2004 in London
Roy Heppinstall was in the chair. Attendance totalled 18 although not all were there all the time. The following is a summary of the main items of interest, and cannot include all matters discussed in the usual long Agenda. (1) Minutes are up to date at last, and hopefully will remain so. (Is that tempting fate?) (2) Honorary Life Vice-Presidents. It was agreed to propose Alan Martin and Richard Furness as Hon Life VPs of the Federation. (3) Affiliations. Approval was given to the following affiliations to the BCF: London Banks Chess League; Combined Banks & Insurance Chess League; Royal Beacon Seniors Congress (re-affiliation). (4) Company Limited by Guarantee. SCCU Treasurer Richard Quin had been invited to attend, giving an enlightening presentation on the advantages of the BCF becoming such a company. (It is currently an unincorporated body, itself a federation of unincorporated bodies.) The main reason for such a change is to limit the liability of members of the Board to a small specific sum (the "Guarantee") as opposed to the current possible unlimited liability. It was agreed that the CEO would progress this change by the preparation of more detailed documentation. (5) Disability Guidelines. At last (and not without some prompting from the Chairman) this long awaited document, entitled "Guidelines on Treatment of Chess Players with Impairments" was approved. Copies will be sent to interested parties and placed on the BCF Website. Whilst committing only the BCF, it is hoped that all relevant bodies will adopt these guidelines. (6) Referees (etc). Home Director Cyril Johnson is proposing the creation of a new tier of arbiter, entitled "Referees", to be appointed on experience without the need to pass exams or understand the Swiss Pairing System.
Cyril also gave notice of some proposed rule changes in the Counties Championships. An idea had been floated enabling players whose County did not have a suitable team to play for an adjacent County who did run such a team. This did not find favour with the Board. But they were in favour of an appeals procedure against QPF decisions (by absentee arbiters under Appendix D) in the Counties Championships. It is also intended that entry fees will go up to £16 per team (but remain at £12 U100). There may be an individual KO Competition open to all, but an organiser will be needed. Volunteers? Finally, Cyril has an idea to change the National Club Championships to 5-round Swiss events (followed by finals for the leading two) on similar lines to the newish Handicap Rapidplay setup. He does however wish to hear from Clubs with their views.
The BCF would like Leagues and Counties to give contact details for all their clubs (some don't) to improve communications. (7) Finance, including International and Marketing. I have put all the information on these topics under one heading, as they are all linked by one word to which all the discussions kept returning i.e SPONSORSHIP. It’s an Olympiad Year so the team needs sponsorship; the Grand Prix needs sponsorship (it’s being financed by the BCF in 2004 and there are revised Rules on the BCF Website). There is a deficit Budget for the current year which will reduce the reserves beyond the point of safety. All in all the position is bleak and some hard decisions will be needed when setting the Budget for 2004/05.
It was agreed to propose the abolition of the Junior exemption to Game Fee. Payment might still be at a reduced rate. [see Note 1]. There is also the possibility of a new (compulsory?) membership scheme for ALL players wishing their grades published – aimed at the 12,500 names in the 2003 List. This would solve the problem. Would it work? [See Note 2!]
19th February 2004 Note 1 (rjh): There has been a recent upsurge in junior grading, which I guess might go into headlong reverse if this change were made. Note 2 (rjh): Pass. I wouldn't vote for it, put like that. I believe it comes from a County, not the MB. Is there not an MB sub-committee looking at the way forward on Membership?
BCF MANAGEMENT BOARD MEETING
Saturday 8th November 2003 in Birmingham
Twenty attended, the meeting being chaired by Chief Executive Officer Roy Heppinstall. The following is a summary of what I believe will be of interest to most chess players at the "grass-roots” and is in no way a complete record of the meeting. (1) Minutes. In a catching up exercise, minutes of the three previous meetings were approved, although there remained a number of unresolved "matters arising" which the CEO and others would be following up for later report. (2) CRB Clearance. The BCF was still not registered with the Criminal Records Bureau as the expected Information Pack had not arrived, being expected "soon"; increasing numbers needed clearance as Registered BCF Coaches. (3) Companies Limited by Guarantee. The CEO tabled a paper detailing many of the issues surrounding conversion of the BCF to a company. It was agreed that Richard Quin, SCCU Treasurer, would be invited to attend the next Board meeting to advise on some of the matters raised. It was recognised that this was a complex topic with many ramifications, not least the current debate on membership and the Federation. (4) "British" Championship. The Edinburgh Congress should show a substantial surplus despite some problems with the venue. The Director confirmed the eligibility criteria for future Championships (largely British Citizenship plus a three year residency qualification) and, regarding Commonwealth Chess, it was proposed and agreed that the BCF should use its influence to ensure that fully representative Championships were held at every level. Turning to the Qualifying Rules for the British Championships the Director proposed the following amendments which were agreed:
a) Rule 4 - currently reading: "Finishing in the top three, or highest placed Under 21, in the Major Open" to read "The top four eligible players in the World Major Open." ("World Major Open" is the title of this year's event at Scarborough.)
b) Rule 8 currently reading: "An active rating of 220 (2360) or higher” to read "An active rating of 218 (2350) or higher.”
c) Rule 11 - delete "Guernsey” who had not signed the BICC agreement.
The Director had visited the Isle of Man in relation to the 2005 Championships and proposed that these be held in Douglas IOM subject to the usual guarantees relating to the venue. This was agreed although it was accepted that extensive marketing would be required to ensure the success of such a venue. (5) Home Chess. The Director of Home Chess submitted a paper outlining the need to create a new tier of arbiter, to be known as Match Referees. This was intended for teachers, match captains and others who wished to obtain an "organiser's" qualification but lacked the wish or the time to obtain a full Arbiter's qualification. They would be examined on the Laws, and on the conduct of matches and the organisation of other events. The proposals were understood to have the general support of the Chief Arbiter, David Welch, but there were a number of administrative points to finalise prior to the production of a final paper for approval at the next Board meeting and submission to the April Council meeting.
The Director also tabled a paper including proposed Guidelines on Issues arising re players with disabilities. It was however agreed that there was a need for further detailed consideration before the document could be published in its final form. (6) Finance. In his first report to the Board the Director of Finance presented a generally gloomy picture. The overall projection for 2003/04 was now a deficit in excess of £5,000, although this was lower than the original budget thanks in the main to the anticipated surplus of c. £4,000 from the 2003 Congress. Looking ahead to 2004/2005 he
saw little chance of improvement, and to achieve a balanced budget could involve a substantial increase in Game Fee from the current 36p to 44p for that year. Grand Prix. Despite these gloomy forecasts it was then agreed that if no sponsor was found by 1st December an unbudgeted sum of £5,000 would be set aside to pay for a Grand Prix in 2004, the cost to be allocated to the 2003/04 financial year. (6) Juniors. In a wide ranging report the Junior Director expressed the view that Junior Chess was in its best state for some years, thanks being due not only to David Norwood for his generosity, but also to the team of managers, parents and others for their continuing help and support. The Ampleforth Young Masters had proved an outstanding success and would be continued for a fifth year. The Certificate of Excellence had also gone from strength to strength though, sadly, the BCF Schools Competition was in danger of ceasing if no sponsorship could be found.
Discussion turned to the proposed Government Chess Initiative in Schools from which it emerged that the Budget for the whole project was a mere £9,000. Doubts were expressed as to the viability of such a short term scheme, but it was accepted that the BCF could not afford not to be involved with such a project and it was agreed to co-operate in the running of the scheme. A Project Manager had to be appointed by 25th November and it was agreed that Director of Coaching Matthew Turner would be approached to ascertain his willingness to accept this post. (7) Name and Objects of the Federation. Concern was expressed that the decision of Council to investigate a change of name had not yet been implemented, and it was agreed that the proposed working party would be convened as a matter of urgency. (This has since been done. It wants to know what people think, and you may be interested in its questionnaire which we publish in a separate page.) (8) FIDE Report. The minutes of the latest FIDE meeting had been placed on the BCF Website. It was noted that the minimum FIDE rating would be reduced to 1601 as from July 2004 and that FIDE Regulations now included forfeiture of games in the event of allowing a mobile phone to ring and the banning of re-pairings in tournaments unless the players agree.
The meeting closed at 5.50 pm having completed the business of a long and complex Agenda in a generally efficient manner, and in an atmosphere free of acrimony.
BCF COUNCIL MEETING
Saturday 27th September 2003 at Peterborough
40+ attended, which is about the norm and better than we got in April. Gerry Walsh took the Chair. It was a good-humoured meeting, despite one unnecessary (and firmly suppressed) attempt to evoke the unpleasantnessses of a year ago. It went something like this. (1) Money, but you know we don't understand money. The audited Accounts 2002-3 showed a deficit of £873, achieved perhaps more by luck than judgment. Finance Director: "This may be the year when some chickens come home to roost." The Accounts were adopted. We have an impression that substantial funding could be available for junior events in the near future. (2) British Championship. Talk was largely of venues and disabilities. It was remarked that no venue is perfect. Disabled access will always be a priority, and it was likely to be better next time. (But you can't be choosers when the commercial price of your venue is £70,000 for a fortnight and you're paying next to nothing.) Someone asked when the BCF would produce the promised set of disability guidelines for organisers. Answer: almost immediately, once the Management Board has vetted them. (3) Disability issues was the next agenda item, as it happened. The meeting had two papers before it: one from the Management Board and one from Bruce Birchall (but the latter was only an extract from the full 6-page version on the BCF website). There was some discussion of players who cannot write the moves down. Laws say, if a player is unable to record the moves the arbiter shall deduct an amount of time from his clock at the start. This may or may not have been intended for people who physically can't write their moves down. But the amount of time deducted is up to the arbiter, and the convention among English arbiters is that it is zero in such cases. They have not exactly shouted this from the rooftops. But we digress, as the meeting did. The papers' authors did not feel that there was any actual incompatibility between the two, so it would have been possible for Council to accept both. But, to be on the safe side, it noted both instead. (4) BCF Schools Championship. Someone asked, as he had before, why the entries had declined in the last year or two. The Chief Conductor said there is no one answer. The decline in school activity has been going on for years, locally as well as nationally. But one thing that does not help is the loss of the sponsor who used to distribute entry forms to (apparently) every school in the country. Someone said it ought to be possible to have forms emailed out by local authorities. This had been considered and thought not doable, but it is worth further investigation. (5) Grading. It was remarked that the Top 100 list in the book included many foreign players. It does, and the other "Top" lists have a few, partly because the previous year's list tried to weed them out and did it wrong. The database has no proper record of national affiliation, and in practical terms it can't have. (You can pick up nationalities from a FIDE list, but what about people who aren't in it?) So the job has to be done by hand if at all, and in a very short space of time. There was a straw poll to see whether people would like the Top lists pruned "in spite of the difficulties involved". No one counted the hands, but there were a lot of yeses and your Webmaster, who produced the lists this year, was careful not to look too closely at the noes. (It wasn't a handful.)
Another comment was about the size of the list - and its accompanying price - occasioned by reverting to the old practice of printing up to six clubs per player. Moreover, many of the clubs were wrong. The answer was that the program would eventually ignore clubs dormant for two years or more. Unfortunately it will take a year, or maybe more, before this comes properly into effect. [Webmaster's note: no one thought to say it at the meeting, but if a club is wrong, tell the BCF. Clubs can be deleted. Many clubs have been this year.] (6) Responsibilities of Directors. Council approved the Management Board's proposed job descriptions. They are on the BCF website at http://www.bcf.org.uk/organisation/meetings_reports/respon_officers_jul03.htm. (7) Elections. No contested elections, and all the candidates got in (with one vote against, in three or four cases, and it wasn't the same One each time). You will know, if you've read the next Report down, that we have a new International Director. The Finance Committee is as before plus Mike Adams of Guildford, and the Constitution Committee is as before plus John Paines of Bristol. (8) Life Vice-President. Council elected Stewart Reuben, the retiring International Director. (9) Council meetings 2004. Finance: Saturday 24th April in the WECU. Annual meeting: in the MCCU, on an October date to be fixed by the Management Board. Yes, October was agreed. (10) BCF's name. As everyone knows, the BCF is thinking about changing its name to something that more closely reflects what it is. Some opposed it on grounds of tradition or cost, or loyalty to Commonwealth members. Others doubted if many Commonwealth members desired our support. Some UK "foreigners", in Scotland at any rate, were said to resent our current name. (What they think in North Wales is not known, but North Wales actually is in the BCF.) Changing would not affect the government grant. After much discussion the question was put to Council, in principle, on a card vote. For change: 133. Against: 48. Some were surprised by the size of the majority. The target name was not specified.
Discussion then turned to the detail of instructions to the Management Board. It was detailed, and when we'd been 35 minutes on the change of name someone said let's cut the crap and have a vote, and we did, and the Management Board will take it further. (11) Corporate Plan 2004-6 and Achievement Report 2003. Both were accepted with minimal, if any, discussion. See the next report down if unsure what they are. (12) Objects of the Federation. This was the most entertaining part of the meeting. The Management Board proposed one more in the series of changes to 2.9 of the Constitution. Proposed:
The objects of the Federation shall be...
To make the Federation's services and membership available to all, without restriction on grounds of age, playing ability, impairment, colour, creed, gender, occupation, race or religious or political affiliation, and to promote equal opportunities in a positive manner.
Carefully crafted, and informed by the latest advice on political acceptability, and your Webmaster would have stifled a yawn and passed it on the nod. Not so Council. "'Religious' ought to be 'religion'". "How is 'creed' different from 'religion'?" "Shouldn't there be a comma here?" "What about sexual orientation? It should be inserted in its alphabetical place" (and it was). It went on like this, to visibly growing impatience, and you'd have needed a heart of stone not to laugh when someone proposed the correct and obvious amendment. The amended motion was carried by a comfortable two-thirds majority, and the Constitution now says:
To make the Federation's services and membership available to all, and to promote equal opportunities in a positive manner.
And there goes months, or years, of husbanding and consultation. Your Webmaster does not for one moment doubt the importance of disability issues, which is what this was about in the first place, or of equal opportunities in general. But he cannot blame Council if it is tired of playing with words and has decided to say what it means in plain English. (13) Other Constitutional changes
(a) It was agreed that the Finance Director should no longer be ex officio a member of the Finance Committee. The (new) Finance Director, who after the adjournment had sat himself in the body of the meeting instead of at the top table, said he'd have proposed this himself if it hadn't been on the agenda already.
(b) It was agreed that, at meetings of the Council and Management Board, proxy votes should no longer count towards a quorum. Further, the quorum for Council meetings was increased from 15 to 20. (14) Awards. Presentations were made to Ian Hunnable for the Website of the Year (Essex CA) and to David Levens for the Small Club of the Year (Stapleford). For the second year running the BCET Awards were not announced (the Trustees had not decided yet). Your Website thinks this is a pity.
The meeting closed at 5.39 pm, having got comfortably through its agenda despite some losses of way here and there.